Fire impact day to assess safety of flats above shops in Sudbury following blaze last September

PUBLISHED: 11:06 29 April 2016 | UPDATED: 11:06 29 April 2016

Emergency services at the scene of a fire in Sudbury town centre.

Emergency services at the scene of a fire in Sudbury town centre.


Extensive safety checks are to be carried out in mixed-use buildings across Sudbury as a direct result of the devastating fire which ripped through the town last year.

Homes and businesses were destroyed in the blaze on September 6, which started in a shop in Friars Street. Several people living in flats over the business premises had to be rescued by firefighters.

And now as part of a joint project sparked by the incident, Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service in conjunction with Babergh and Mid Suffolk district councils is running an ‘impact day’ in Sudbury on May 3.

Private sector housing officers from the two district authorities will be working with fire officers to identify and assess buildings in the town that are used for business and residential purposes, particularly flats above shops and restaurants.

It will involve an initial risk assessment and inspection which will consider fire detection, prevention and means of escape from fire. It will also give guidance to occupiers, owners and landlords who will be given a chance to resolve any serious hazards that are identified.

Officers will also be looking at conditions in privately-rented housing to make sure it is safe for occupants. The fire service has enforcement powers where owners or landlords are not willing to carry out the necessary work.

Jennie Jenkins, Babergh’s portfolio holder for housing, said: “The fire that destroyed many businesses and homes in Sudbury was absolutely devastating for all involved and we were so very lucky that no one lost their life.

“This awful incident highlighted where lessons could be learned and I am pleased that our councils and the fire service are now taking positive, proactive, steps to try and ensure all of the buildings are compliant with the latest legislation and that the people who live in them know what to do in the event of a fire.”

Nick Gowrley, her counterpart at Mid Suffolk added: “Our main aim is to educate and inform our businesses, landlords and tenants in these types of properties about suitable fire detection systems, fire prevention and means of escape.

“Our officers will be proactively targeting high-risk premises to try and prevent another fire happening in our towns.”

Work to restore the buildings affected by the Sudbury fire is likely to be a slow process according to Sudbury’s deputy mayor Sue Ayres, who is part of a committee set up to handle donations made to fire victims in the aftermath.

No decisions have been made as to what will replace the 19th century former Goldsmith’s Mansion building where the fire started. Meanwhile HSBC Bank, which is currently operating out of temporary premises on Market Hill, has just submitted a planning application for repairs to its fire damaged historic building on the corner of Friars Street and Market Hill.

For more information about next Tuesday’s impact day, call 01473 826639.

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